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Six things you need to know about hiring in Hong Kong

1) Your next job will probably be a replacement or an upgrade

If last year was all about growth hiring, many of the current vacancies have come about because of attrition. Banks are now more cautious, especially in an uncertain global economic climate, says Levina Poon, director, banking and financial services, Hudson Hong Kong. “They want to observe the market, rather than grow too rapidly. There’s also upgrading taking place – replacing people with higher performers,” she adds.

2) Only very good bankers get very good bonuses

With firms having smaller bonus pots to share out, high achievers have generally taken an even larger share of the spoils than in previous years, says Nick Lambe, managing director, Morgan McKinley Hong Kong. “Below average performers have received relatively little of the total amount. This has created an increased appetite for individuals to be open to looking around.”

3) Face facts: Employers aren’t flexible

Recruitment budgets in Hong Kong are generally higher than in the West, so most hiring managers expect to find near-perfect candidates. “In addition, language is still a very important factor in Hong Kong. For some positions, Cantonese or Mandarin is a must, even though someone may have the right experience for the role,” says Jared Ng, regional consulting director, PeopleSearch.

4) Corporate finance is still (fairly) hot

Points one to three above don’t mean recruitment is slumping in Hong Kong – it’s just down a bit from the heights of last year. The territory continues to be a global IPO hub, and while mainland organisations may not do deals on the same scale as 2010, plenty of European and US companies are looking to list, says Lambe. “This means hiring activity in this space is high and the talent pool remains limited, especially for employers looking for native Mandarin speakers,” he adds.

5) The thirst for retail RMs never ends

Over in retail banking, relationship managers remain in demand and are moving jobs for high salary increments. “The strong economy means less unemployment and also people doing better financially. Banks naturally want to tap the huge potential of the mass market here,” says Ng.

6) Singapore is not the only city calling for private bankers

Lambe comments: “Private banking is extremely active, with many new entrants to the market, as well as established businesses growing to meet the demands of current and/or future clients from mainland China.” Firms are particularly keen on private bankers with AUM in excess of US$150m, adds Ng.

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